3 rooms full
I have been put in charge of a project to build out a facility that has three rooms for audio/video production of "fireside chats", small group discussions and a classroom setting - talking head. The first room is a living room enviornment with a 4' x 6' window on one wall. Any suggestions on colors of furniture that work better than others? Need ighthing suggestions (portable or fixed in the 10' 4" ceiling or both) The second room is a board room setting with no windows. The last is a classroom area with two 4' x 6' windows and a double glass door entering into it. As for the windows and doors and suggestions on dressings to block or modify ambient light? Same question again, portable suggestions or fixed suggestions.
I have read through many of the threads and found some information, but it is mixed and in different applications, green screens, etc. So I did try.
Thanks ahead of time for any responses, usable or opinions on my post and typing ability or master or lack there of the english language. May all your light shine where it should.
John, Where are you located? Are there any professional DPs or gaffers in your area? If there are, that's where you should start. You are asking us to give you a complete lighting, set design, and construction plan for 3 rooms -- a bit beyond the scope of this forum, it seems to me.
director of photography
I agree... sounds like a job more than big enough that you need a DP or gaffer to come in and at least eyeball it.
Also, I couldn't tell from the description whether your windows (and doors) were real windows to the actual outside world, or if they are just windows in a set wall that will also need lighting attention from the other side.
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
Yes the joy of living in rural Idaho. The three windows and door all go outside. Closest professionals are over 2 hours away. WHat I will end up doing in the long run, but a cost I would like to avoid as their travel will be more than their time here I am sure.
Your project is sufficiently ambitious that you are going to need to spend some serious bucks for: set design, lighting design, sound design (what mics, where to place them, how to handle them); and then all the sets and lights and mics and mixers, etc. etc. In other words, unless you have the money for all this, you have a very, very difficult task. Even with the bucks, this is no walk in the park. One little detail alone will be a constant source of trouble: all those windows facing outside, where what you see out them as well as what light enters the room is at the constant mercy of the sun, rain, and fog. Those windows will force you to light for daylight, which is generally more expensive, though Daylight Kino Flos cost no more than Tungsten.
The good news is there is always some way to make such projects work. Spending some dough on bringing pros out to help you will be wisely spent money, provided you find the right guys.
You might begin by making floor plans drawn to scale, showing exactly how everything fits together, where the doors and windows are, the dimensions, etc, and also taking multiple photographs of the space. Then I'd start interviewing DPs, set designers, and sound people by phone to try to find people who have both the expertise and the personality that will mesh with you and your needs.
Most likely whoever comes out to your digs will need to make more than one trip. On a standard (at least in the SF Bay Area) day of 10 hours, you will get 6 hours of on-location consultation. However, your guys can do a lot with your floor plans and photographs before coming out.
Finally, to install the electrical distribution, rig a grid, and install the lights will take someone who really knows both his electrical and mechanical stuff. It is possible you could find some of that expertise locally, at least with some guidelines from your pros.
I presume you have the cameras you need. Otherwise, that's a whole new, and expensive, project.
director of photography
The cost of trained, experienced professionals to consult on this project will more than outweigh the mess you will be in if you attempt to do it alone.
This is a MAJOR undertaking involving several disciplines that you obviously have no experience in. It goes far beyond bringing in just a DP and gaffer. You need consultants versed in systems, facilities, rigging, electrical engineering, scenery, lighting and make-up designers, etc. If you don't have at least $100.000.00 (just to accomplish modest results); you should abandon this pursuit....just because of the liability factor, should something go amiss.
Well 100,000 is all I have to build / remodel the 40' by 40' facility, purchase everything including cameras, computers, etc. SO I guess I have no choice but to screw it up and do it alone. Thanks for the input from all involved. Guess I will bea true pioneer and go it alone.
That's the spirit!
I'd contact a true expert like Mr. Size (or someone he recommends) and get great advice. Perhaps he could work from a floor plan.
An amateur's take on your situation:
1. Get good blinds for the windows. Later on, if you have a nice view, you might invest in ND or CTO+ND filters over the glass, but for now, with your budget, just get rid of the complicating factor of daylight.
2. Go fluorescent for your lighting. Cooler, cheaper in long run.
3. Overhead grids for SAFELY hanging lights would be a big plus, especially for fluoros with their limited throw.
4. Some central control of lighting (either by DMX or by simple on-off switches) would be good -- especially a lightboard.
5. You haven't mentioned audio. If you don't do major soundproofing you'll likely have many takes ruined by distracting ("unmotivated") sounds.
6. Finally, if your budget is too limited to do three rooms well, do one room well and use simpler temporary solutions for the other two.
Paying a real expert would be your best investment. True, your budget is small, but you also have a lot less money to waste on the wrong plan.
These fireside chats, are they one take, well-rehearsed type of thing? I love windows. I live in Tahoe and am always having to expose INT. DAY for EXT. DAY because the view of Lake Tahoe, of course, is central to the shot.
My very simple technique (or is it a trick?) is to expose for "the view," and frame accordingly. I light the talking head with two 650 open face Arris with 1/4 CTB ('cause that's what I have) -- placed to the far right of my camera, trying to get a bit of shadow on the far side of the face because in my opinion chiaroscuro looks cool. Just to make the picture a little more interesting, I clip a foam core to a C-stand and bounce as much daylight back into the subject. I experiment with placing the bounce card until I get the rim light I'm after.
A couple other things: the whole light, scrimmed and shapped to taste, is placed, I don't know, 10 to 15 feet away from the subject, and I keep my camera 10 to 15 feet from the talking head.
For a mic, I use a shotgun mic or lavalier, plugged into the camera. I wear headphones while shooting, which, by the way, makes it easy by mistake to yell at the talent. (So there's a little cautionary tale.)
The reason this works in editing is because it's one take. It would be pretty hard to edit if the background light didn't match from cut to cut, like in winter when a snow storm moves in over a few hours.
(This set up also entail that you pick the correct time of day to shoot, morning/evening look the nicest, but you can always gel the window with ND gels if you have to shoot at other times.)
The room without the windows: nifty trick here is practical lamps. These won't actually add much luminance but they'll "trick the eye." A floor lamp and or a table lamp shown on camera and set in convenient 3-point lighting pattern will mean you can light the talking head in a very typical standard beauty lighting. There's tons of places to learn that. Be sure to put 15-watt bulbs in the practicals and expose so they are your brightest point in the shot. On the other hand, if you have to shoot a whole board room with folks sitting all around: use China balls above the actors, center of the table (maybe a couple of them), and a few between the back of the chairs and the walls to remove nasty shadows. Frame the china lanterns out of the shot, but keep the 15-watt practicals in the shot. If the room has built in fluorescent lights in the ceiling, take those out, but turn the light switch on ;)
Richard, that's great advice, and a fresh approach to this guy's immense project. A couple of additional thoughts: you could double up the 1/4 CTB to get to 1/2 CTB, for perhaps a better match to the outside daylight. I would think using two open-faced units as key would give you double-shadows, unless you are blasting them through some common diffusion placed well in front of the lights.
Have you tried using the light coming in the window as you key? If you can place your talking head close enough to that light source, it should work. Add a little bounce fill, and a small backlight.
Note that, as you no doubt know, having the outside a couple of stops hot in relation to the inside looks natural.
The china-ball lighting for the boardroom is a super cheap and effective way to go. Otherwise, I'd say you'd need some banks of Kino Flos angled across the table -- Flos above the left side illuminate the right side, etc.
Having practicals on is a great, simple, cheap and highly effective way to give the room some dimension and appeal to the eye.
director of photography
Thanks! I have some silks I can use to eliminate that double shadow. It hasn't been a problem, though, because talking heads just don't move and my aim has gotten pretty good.
I've used exterior light for the key when the sun gets low enough. Tahoe buildings are designed in such a way that the snow will slide off the roofs, so there's always an overhang, shade type of thing.